In the early 1970s, academic and scientific writers preferred the term ‘San’ to ‘Bushman’, the latter being perceived as pejorative. However, ‘San’ is now believed by some to have been a derogatory word when used by the Khoikhoi, and ‘Bushman’ is again in use among scholars (see quotation 1993).
Latterly the supposed distinction (in culture, and often in language) between San and Khoikhoi has come to be considered as spurious, and many writers now refer to these peoples collectively as ‘the Khoisan’.
1830A. Smith inS. Afr. Quarterly JrnlI. 171To this [division] the other tribes, as well as its own members, apply the name of Saap or Saan, and history describes a portion thereof under the appellation of Bushmen.
1853F. GaltonNarr. of Explorer in Tropical S. Afr. 42A savage loses his name, ‘Saen,’ which is the Hottentot word, as soon as he leaves his Bushman’s life and joins one of the larger tribes..; and therefore when I say Oerlam, Hottentot or Bushman, the identically same yellow, flat-nosed, woolly-haired, clicking individual must be conjured up.., but differing in dirt, squalor, and nakedness, according to the actual term employed.
1876Encycl. Brit.IV. 575Bushmen or Bosjesmans, so named by the British and Dutch colonists of the Cape, but calling themselves Saab or Saan are an aboriginal race of South Africa, allied in some respects to the Hottentots.
1881T. HahnTsuni-‖Goam 3In the Nama language, one of the Khoikhoin idioms, the Bushmen are called Sa-n (com. pl.). The meaning of this term is not quite intelligible.
1905W.H. Tooke inFlint & GilchristScience in S. Afr.Aug. 17The Hottentot name for the Bushman was San, Sonqua and Obiqua or robber.
1977R. ElphickKraal & Castle 28The word San could..be exceedingly flexible in reference. It was applied not only to hunter-gatherers but to small-scale stock breeders like the Horisans and Sangomomkoa.
1988H. Angula inB. WoodNamibia 1884–1984 103The San do indeed now also call themselves by the name San, a word which originally meant hoarding, collecting fruits, digging roots and capturing animals. Anthropological studies tend to classify the San people with the Khoi-Khoi people in a ‘Khoisan race’...Anthropologists believe them to be descendants of a Late Stone Age people who roamed southern Africa at least 30,000 years ago...Nevertheless, the origin of the San people is a matter of controversy amongst notable scientific researchers.
1988H. Angula inB. WoodNamibia 1884–1984 114Informed estimates place the number of San now living in the Kalahari Sandveld regions of Botswana, Namibia and Southern Angola at above 55,000. The main San groups, found in the north-east of Namibia now include the Heikum, the Kwankara, the Ovangola, and the Kung or !Khang, who are the most numerous.
1990E. Holtzhausen inSunday Times 31 Mar. 15David — ‘I am a Bushman not a San’ — and his tribe live on the Kagga Kamma game reserve,..overlooking the barren, sandy scrubland of the Great Karoo.
1993J.A. LouwInformant, PretoriaSaan is a Khoi word meaning collector i.e. of food. It has a slightly pejorative meaning and the Bush people do not like it.
A name originally given by the Khoikhoi to a member of an indigenous people of southern and south-western Africa, traditionally hunter-gatherers, now living mainly in the Kalahari regions of Angola, Botswana, and Namibia, in dwindling numbers; Bosjesman1; Bushman1 a; Houzouana; Saap; Soa;
The group of languages or dialects spoken by this people; Bosjesman2; Bushnoun; Bushman2. Also attributive.
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